Burlingame Panthers cruise in CCS baseball opener | local

Because of the vagaries of the Central Coast Section schedule, there was a week off between the end of the regular season and the start of the CCS baseball playoffs.

“We went hard Tuesday and Wednesday (in inter-squad scrimmages),” said Burlingame manager Shawn Scott. “(We) threw some of our better pitchers. It was good.”

That heightened preparation appeared to pay off Saturday as the Panthers jumped all over No. 6 Homestead in the first inning, scoring eight times on their way to a 12-0, five-inning, mercy-rule victory at Burlingame’s Washington Park Saturday afternoon.

“We scrimmaged each other (during the week) so we were productive,” said Burlingame shortstop Johnny Suarez. “Personally, I had to miss a day to drain fluid from my knee.”

Suarez seemed none the worse for wear he finished a home run shy of the cycle while driving in a game-high four RBIs. His double in the bottom of the first chased Lou Martineau home, all the way from first base. Suarez came up for a second time in the first inning and drove in two more with a single to center. In the third, he tripled home Martineau.

But it was the eight-run, first-inning uprising that was the difference in the game.

“It was the game, with the way [starting pitcher Holden Glavin] was pitching,” Scott said.

Burlingame (17-11) sent 12 batters to the plate in its first at-bat as the first seven in the Panthers’ order reached base. Martineau, Suarez, Dexter Quisol and Ryan Kall all collected hits leading off the game. Charlie Dohemann, Charlie Happ and Blake Dempsey all reached on errors.

Suarez, Kall and Dempsey had RBIs in the inning, while Martineau scored twice. The Panthers also benefited from a pair of balk calls against the Homstead (15-13) starting pitcher, each time driving in a run.

“I was definitely surprised. I didn’t expect the game to go like this,” Suarez said of the early offensive fireworks. “It hasn’t been like that (for us this year). Offense has been a struggle for us.”

The early offense was more than enough for Glavin. One of the best in the Peninsula Athletic League this season, Glavin got off to a bit of a rocky start, by his standards. He left a runner stranded at second base in the top of the first after hitting the No. 3 Homestead batter with two outs. In the second, Nicholas Pelster led off the inning with a double and a Kailash Menon single put runners on first and third with two outs. Again, Glavin pitched out of trouble. The Mustangs added a single in the third, but that would be the last hit allowed by Glavin, who finished with six strikeouts in five innings of work while throwing an economical 69 pitches.

Suarez said the early offense was nothing but a boon for a pitcher like Glavin.

“Once you have that much of a cushion with Holden on the mound … way easier,” Suarez said.

In the third, the Panthers batted around for the second time in the game and it was an AJ Caprini bunt that was the big hit. Dempsey led off the inning with a single to center and Sean Richardson walked. Both runners moved up 90 feet on an error by the catcher to bring up 9 hitter Caprini.

After taking the first pitch for a ball, Caprini squared around to bunt with Dempsey already breaking for the plate on a suicide squeeze play. The ball was up around Caprini’s eyes and he nearly put the bat in a vertical position, but he managed to send a perfect bunt up the first-base line. Caprini was out at first, but Dempsey scored easily and Richardson never slowed down around third as he, too, scored on the play for a 10-0 lead.

Martineau, who reached base in his first three plate appearances, singled and scored his third run of the game on Suarez’s triple. He would come in to score on Kall’s second RBI single of the game to round out the scoring

The Panthers, the defending Division III champion, now advance to the Division III semifinals. They’ll face No. 2 Santa Cruz at 7 pm Wednesday at Santa Clara’s Washington Park. The Cardinals beat No. 7 Menlo-Atherton, 3-2.

“I feel like we have a target on our backs,” Suarez said. “But it gives us fire.”

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